The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has announced a new television rights deal with the Nine and Fox Sports networks worth more than $1 billion over five years.
ARLC chairman John Grant announced to the media the five-year deal with Nine and Fox Sports is worth $1.025 billion, comprising $925 million in cash and a further $100m in advertising.
The deal is only just short of the $1.253 billion five-year deal the AFL boasted last year when improving on its previous deal of $749 million.
Grant said the new league TV agreement deal does not include rights to broadcast games in New Zealand, or rights for mobile and online broadcast with further revenue to be raised through those deals.
Nine will continue to broadcast three free-to-air games a week and Fox Sports will show five games live including a Sunday night fixture for half the season.
All major commercial television networks submitted bids for the rights and Grant was buoyed by the commercial interest in the game.
"We applaud the confidence all our broadcasters have shown in this great game of rugby league," Grant said.
"It's a fantastic result for the game.
The cash is useful in providing funding to grow our game from the grass-roots to the elite level." The ARLC's consultants and lawyers worked around the clock on the new deal.
A heads of agreement was signed with Nine and Foxsports this morning.
"It's been a difficult, complex and at times stressful process," Grant said.
"This ranks in this country as one of the greatest deals ever done.
"For our game it is the greatest deal ever done." Channel Nine chief executive David Gyngell spoke triumphantly about his network's new deal and continuing relationship with rugby league.
"The players and the clubs are all going to get a drink out of this," Gyngell said.
"There is nothing surer." Taking on AFL Gyngell said the NRL deal was pound for pound a bigger deal than the AFL rights deal, and that it was a better deal than the AFL deal.
"We stepped up and put as much money into rugby league as we possibly could," he said.
"We are here to fend off AFL in western Sydney and push back in the traditional rugby league areas of Queensland, Gold Coast and Sydney." Gyngell said Nine would continue to broadcast alternate live games into Queensland and New South Wales to give fans their local matches as much as possible.
"Why would we have two games against each other?" he said.
"We have two live slots for three games.
"I sit here unapologetically saying we have to put programs into slots we can commercialise.
"Majority wins with us - more people want to watch local games." Fox Sports chief executive Patrick Delany, said the deal would allow Fox to broadcast five live games on Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).
He said his network would also have the ability to create products for tablets in the same way it had done for the Olympics.
Delany said this service would come with a subscription to a Fox Sports package.